Hollywood hat trick to play out here

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It's the movie version of a G-20 summit: Denzel Washington, Jake Gyllenhaal and Russell Crowe. All coming to Pittsburgh to make three separate movies starting in late summer or early fall.

News of "Unstoppable" starring Washington and Chris Pine came last week and this week brings word that Gyllenhaal will star alongside Anne Hathaway and Josh Gad in "Love and Other Drugs" while Crowe has been cast in Paul Haggis' "The Next Three Days" for Lionsgate.

Edward Zwick is directing "Love and Other Drugs," written by Charles Randolph ("The Interpreter"). It was inspired by the Jamie Reedy nonfiction book, "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman."

Gyllenhaal plays a salesman who competes in the cutthroat world of pharmaceutical sales and starts a relationship with a woman (Hathaway) with the early onset of Parkinson's disease.

"The Next Three Days" is an adaptation of the 2008 French nail-biter "Pour Elle" or loosely "Anything for Her" about a wife and mother convicted of a murder she insists she did not commit and her husband's desperate efforts to free her.

Lionsgate confirmed yesterday the movie will be set in Pittsburgh, and the writer-director of the Oscar-winning "Crash" told Variety that Crowe, playing a teacher, will function as an Everyman.

The story will explore faith and belief but he said, "The deeper theme here is, would you save the woman you loved if you knew that by doing so, you would turn into a man that woman could no longer love?"

Although the city has played host to many a star, from Jack Nicholson and Bruce Willis to Michael Douglas and Viggo Mortensen, this is an unprecedented triple play in the almost 20-year history of the Pittsburgh Film Office.

"This is a big deal for Pittsburgh," directly related to the Pennsylvania film tax-credit program, Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, said yesterday. "That's why we're on the short list [of possible locations]. After that, we have to prove it."

Gyllenhaal may best be known for his Oscar-nominated turn in "Brokeback Mountain" but his roles have included an editorial cartoonist obsessed with a serial killer in "Zodiac," a CIA analyst in "Rendition" and a third-generation enlistee who finds himself in the first Gulf War in "Jarhead."

He will help to kick off summer 2010 with the fantasy-adventure "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time." (Gyllenhaal also has been floated as Joe Namath in a movie tracking the quarterback from Beaver Falls.)

Hathaway earned her first Oscar nomination for 2008's "Rachel Getting Married" as a woman fresh from rehab who arrives for her sister's wedding. It was a stunning showcase for Hathaway and a dramatic departure from her lighter "Get Smart" and "Princess Diaries" roles.

Gad, who will play Gyllenhaal's brother in "Love and Other Drugs," is a 2003 Carnegie Mellon University graduate who appeared in "The Rocker," the set-in-Pittsburgh sitcom "Back to You" and high-rolling "21."

Zwick and his Bedford Falls partner Marshall Herskovitz are producing "Love and Other Drugs," along with Scott Stuber and Randolph. The Fox 2000/New Regency movie will be shot entirely on location in and around Pittsburgh.

Zwick, one of the Oscar-winning producers of "Shakespeare in Love," directed such films as "Defiance," "Blood Diamond," "The Last Samurai" and "Glory," the Civil War epic which coincidentally earned Washington a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

"Love and Other Drugs" has opened an office here, which puts it ahead of "The Next Three Days."

"They're all not starting at the same time, and they are shooting throughout the region so they're not all trying to use Grant Street at 5 o'clock, for example," Keezer said of the trio of projects. Start dates could range from late August to late September or just beyond.

As for whether there are enough crew members for a trio of movies, she said, "Because we have such a talented crew base, which has doubled in size, we are able to crew up and service these three and any more." Her office has been working with the filmmakers for anywhere from six months to several years to land the movies.

"We should all realize that if the Pennsylvania film tax credit goes away, so will all this work and, along with it, the jobs," she said, mindful that the tax credit is part of the state's budget still in thorny negotiations.

Post-Gazette movie editor Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.


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